Local Geordie actor, Robson Green will officially switch on the Archimedes screw at the National Trust’s Cragside in Northumberland on Tuesday 29 July, relighting Cragside House just as Lord Armstrong did back in 1878.
Cragside House was the first house in the world to use hydroelectricity and with the introduction of this modern hydro system, a 17 metre long galvanised turbine weighing several tonnes, it will produce enough energy to light the bulbs in the house, and enable Cragside to re-tell the story for which it is famous.
Cragside was the first house in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity, in 1878 when Lord Armstrong used water from the lakes on the estate to generate electricity through a turbine.
The Archimedes screw will produce about 12kw of electricity and over the course of a year Cragside expects the screw to provide about 10% of its electricity. This is the equivalent to lighting all the lights in the house for a year, but not enough to run all its computers, fridges and freezers etc. It will however, fulfil and continue Lord Armstrong’s dream of lighting his house by hydro-power.
Andrew Sawyer, property curator at Cragside commented:
“It is a very visual demonstration of the way hydro power works, an almost sculptural sight in the landscape. Lord Armstrong was an exceptional man with an ingenious mind and the prospect of bringing his vision for Cragside into the 21st century is a dream come true. Hydroelectricity is the world’s most widely used form of renewable energy, so we are looking forward to sharing this very special part of its heritage.”
Water from Tumbleton lake, the lowest of the five lakes on the Cragside estate, will feed through the turbine and into the burn below. As water passes through the spiral blades it causes the screw to turn, thereby harnessing the energy of falling water. The energy is then converted into electricity using a generator. The technology is well proven with over 100 installations in Europe and was chosen by the National Trust for its many advantageous features.
Sarah Pemberton, head of conservation at the National Trust explains:
“The hydro-turbine is a great example of the innovative methods the National Trust is employing in order to achieve the highest possible standards of sustainability. The Trust has committed to using 20 per cent less energy and to generate 50 per cent of our energy from renewable sources by 2020. The Archimedes screw at Cragside is another step in this direction and will help one of our biggest properties in the region to generate its own electricity. “The technology is easy to maintain due to the simple mechanics, and because it works at low speed, it’s possible for fish to pass through the turbine unharmed. The best thing about the screw is that it’s visible and we hope this will add to people’s understanding of why Cragside is so special. Visitors will be able to view the technology from the lake side.”
Patrick Begg, Rural Enterprises Director at the National Trust, said:
“To install a scheme that reflects the character of one of our places so directly is unique. It not only makes economic sense but adds so much depth to the story this special house has to tell.
“This project is another example of how we are progressing with our clean energy journey.”
An ambitious plan was launched last year by the National Trust, in conjunction with the 100 per cent renewable electricity supplier Good Energy, to provide clean energy to a further 43 of the charity’s historic properties.
Through its clean energy generation and with energy conservation work, the Trust hopes to save an estimated £4 million from its energy bill each year – which it can plough straight back into conservation work at the special places it looks after.
Energy users can support the Trust’s energy programme by making the switch and signing up to renewable electricity with the charity’s energy partner, Good Energy. The company will pay the Trust up to £40 per year for each new customer that signs up to its dual fuel tariff and mentions the National Trust.
Find out more about the Trust’s energy work and partnership with Good Energy at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/energy
A number of contractors and companies were involved in this project including Mann Power, T J Booth Associates, CH Consultancy Ltd, Roger Builders and Turner and Townsend